Some Mother’s Day Wisdom

James 3.13-18

Much of what James says here about the wisdom from above echoes what Jesus said in the beatitudes, which in turn comes straight out of the OT. Shouldn’t surprise us…because it’s the wisdom that comes from God. From His Word.

So moms, if you want to be wise, spend time in God’s Word. Make it a daily habit. Ask God to use it to change you…to change the way you think, to change the way you see the world around you, to change your attitude and your responses to those around you, to transform you to live and love like Jesus.

That’s not just good for moms. It’s good for all of us.

Moms…you have the incredible responsibility of caring for your kids, and one of the most significant of  your responsibilities when it comes to raising them is not only the time you spend in God’s Word, but also passing it on to your kids by training them up in the fear and admonition of the LORD…teaching them by your words and example to follow God and love Him with their whole heart. That’s where prayer and Bible stories and taking them to church and a lived-out faith come into play.

The world is interested in performance, appearance and influence, and we as parents can fall into that same trap…putting too much pressure on our kids to be the best student or athlete or most popular kid on campus. Making them earn our favor. Moms…pray for God’s help in placing value on the things that God does. Show your kids that their value comes from pleasing God, not from their achievements. 

Moms…as much as you want to, you cannot protect your kids from everything forever. So, take advantage of every one of those teachable moments. Teach your kids to be in the world, but not of the world. You won’t always do it perfectly, and your kids won’t always respond the way that you would have hoped, but moms, when you have done all that you know to do, continue to pray for your kids and be in the Word. You won’t always see the fruit of your labor…it may not seem like it’s “taking”, but remember…when they are in distress, when they are alone, when their worlds are crumbling they will remember what their momma taught them. So take courage.

Finally, Moms…know that your church family wants to support you as you raise your kids. We want them to see this place as their second home. We want them to have lots of examples of folks who are following Jesus as best as they can. If you are a single mom, we want to give them godly men to look to as an example. We want to pray alongside you for their spiritual, emotional and physical protection. We know how difficult it is to navigate this crazy world as a mom and we want to be here for you as a sounding board and prayer warriors.

If you can, thank your mom today for all she has done…give her a hug, send her a text, make a phone call… and let her know how much you love her and that you appreciate all that she has done for you.

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This post is based on our Mother’s Day sermon. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The Beast from the Sea

Revelation 13.1-10

A terrifying beast with all the power, dominion and authority of the dragon behind him wages war with the saints and overcomes them. And he causes all the earth-dwellers, all those who have not trusted in Jesus, to worship him. Who is like the beast and who can make war with him? The King of kings and Lord of lords aka a Guy named Jesus. That’s who.

As we are going through Revelation, there are two different lenses through which we see the world: one earthly and one heavenly. On earth…seemingly total chaos with the enemy apparently winning. Waging war and overcoming. And if you are a Jesus-follower…not looking too good for you. Sure looks like you picked the wrong side.

In heaven…God is in complete control. His sovereignty is unquestioned. The enemy and his minions may roam the earth, but they are subject to God. And there’s coming a time when heaven and earth will once again be reunited…the kingdom will come and God’s will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Then all the kingdoms of this world will be judged… In the end, the saints’ victory will be manifest. Good triumphs over evil. Jesus wins.

With that in mind, what are we to do? Simple. We are to live our lives as a citizens of the eternal kingdom right now, today. To influence others by our uncompromising faith. And come what may…to faithfully persevere. Remember that suffering comes before glory. So don’t give up. Don’t give in. Jesus wins.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

War in Heaven, Persecution on Earth

Revelation 12.7-17

We said this last week, but in the cosmic conflict…the heavenly war that is raging…there are only two sides. You are either for the King or against Him. There is no middle ground. And there’s only One/one to whom you can fall on your knees. Either the true King or the pretender. The tricky thing is…the pretender is good at what he does. Pretending. He’s a deceiver, so often while it might look like he’s winning…our world in chaos…the truth is, he’s a defeated foe. He’s already lost.

And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. We, as believers, overcome because Jesus overcame. He has already done the heavy lifting. He defeated Satan at the cross…the basis for accusation was taken away. And now our job is to share our story…the word of our testimony…about how Jesus rescued us and brought us from death to life.

The final piece of that overcoming is not loving our lives even when faced with death. Sounds a lot like Jesus’ words to His disciples in Matthew 16.24-26, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?” It means that we love God more. We love Him more than anyone or anything. He has our greatest devotion, and He is our highest good.

It means that we live a life worthy of the calling with which we have been called. That’s not always easy to do. And when we do, get ready…opposition won’t be far behind.

And when the world persecutes us, it sure doesn’t look or feel like we are on the winning side. The pressure to conform to this world is everywhere present, and the fear of persecution is real. But that’s when we have to remember that we are no more like Jesus than when we are being persecuted for His sake. That’s when we truly overcome.

So we don’t give up, and we don’t give in…why? Because we know that Jesus wins.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

All In: Grow

Nehemiah 4

The work on the wall had been started, and like everything in life, the Israelites face challenges. Their enemies want them to fail, and the people themselves are overwhelmed by the size and scale of the project.

It’s not easy when the Lord stretches us, but He wants to use us to fulfill His purposes for His Glory. Many times we face opposition, resistance, or overwhelming circumstances, just like Nehemiah and the folks in Jerusalem. Had they continued to look at their surroundings instead of trusting in God, they would not have completed their task. Neither will we.

God is the same today, and He still wants to grow us. 

Sometimes the hardest thing is starting. So let me encourage you to resolve to do something that takes you one step closer to Jesus in 2022. Maybe that’s following our reading plan through the OT on the Central app. Maybe it’s joining a community group. Or serving. Or sharing your story with a friend or co-worker or classmate. Or committing to being more generous. 

Growth and change aren’t easy but if we keep our eyes on Jesus, He will lead us through.

May you have an ever deepening experience of contentment, joy and confidence in your everyday life with God as you spend time with Him this year.

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This post is based on a sermon from our January series: All In. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

All In: Transforming Families

Nehemiah 3

Let’s consecrate our work to the Lord. More than that, let’s consecrate ourselves to Him (Ro. 12.1-2). God is in the transforming business…transforming lives…transforming families to live and love like Jesus. So whether you are at work or serving here at the church, look for opportunities to share, encourage, equip…Don’t forget Who it is you serve and why you’re serving Him. Then, like Nehemiah, you will be able to give Him the glory He is due for the success that He brings.

The point of God’s work in the church is not just to get from point A to point B, but to get everybody from point A to point B. Like a family.

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This post is based on a sermon from our January series: All In. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

Love in God’s Presence

Matthew 2.1-12

A tale of two kings…a tale of two loves. Herod, an earthly king, living in Jerusalem, seeks to build a name and a kingdom for himself. Jesus, the true King, has already been given a Name and a kingdom.

Herod’s love is a very worldly love…love for his own kingdom, love of power, prestige, position, pleasure. A love that is very selfish and self-serving. A love that does not save him because it can not. Jesus is a real threat to Herod because he knows what’s at stake. If Herod doesn’t believe that Jesus could indeed be a king…the King…he has nothing to worry about. But if Jesus is the King, then Herod’s not…and his kingdom falls. His response? Hatred and rejection.

The Magi’s love is other-worldly…they give their allegiance to Someone far greater than any earthly king…their King’s arrival is announced by the heavens. A star points the way. The Magi’s love leads them to extraordinary lengths to see Jesus, and seeing Him, they can’t help but worship Him. They bring costly gifts…another expression of their love. In Him, they have found an object worthy of great pursuit…their love for Jesus is clear…Jesus, the long-awaited Jewish Messiah, the Warrior-King from the line of David, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Hero of the Story and the only One who could rescue them, the Savior of the nations. Their response? Worship and adoration…love.

There is a third group in this story…the religious leaders. These guys are indifferent towards Jesus. They know where Jesus is to be born, but do nothing with the information even when the Magi show up. The trek from Jerusalem to Bethlehem is between 5-6 miles…nothing in comparison to the 900 miles the Magi have travelled… The religious leader’s indifference will turn to anger, hatred and rejection as the Story unfolds because Jesus will threaten their kingdoms as well.

Where are your affections this Christmas? Who or what do you love? Is it causing you to be selfish and self-serving? Is it causing you to want to protect your stuff? If so, it sounds like you are giving your affections to people or things that are destined to disappoint you.

Or is Jesus the object of your affections? Is love for Him causing you to be selfless and others-oriented? Is it causing you to want to pursue Him? Would folks who know you well agree? How about those who don’t know you so well? In other words, is it obvious? If so, it will be clearly seen in the way you love others…

1 John 3.16-18 says, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”

May you experience Love in God’s Presence this Christmas season.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Advent series: Christmas at Central. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

ThanksGIVING

2 Corinthians 8.1-15

Generosity is easily overlooked as a spiritual discipline. You have heard me say often…pray every day, spend time in the Word every day, fellowship with other believers as often as you can, and share your story at every opportunity, but generosity is another one of those disciplines that’s at the core of what it means to follow Jesus. I don’t know how we can express love…for God or for our neighbor…without being generous. Being generous with our time. Being generous with our abilities. Being generous with our resources. Being generous with our lives. Generosity reflects the love that God so generously has shown toward us in Jesus.

Two characters in the Gospel of Luke highlight for me the two opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to generosity…the Rich Young Ruler (Luke 18) and Zacchaeus (Luke 19). They are alike in some ways. Both are wealthy. Both have the resources to be generous. But, their characters couldn’t have been more different. We expect the Rich Young Ruler to be generous…he is well respected, a much loved leader in religious circles and generally a good guy. Zacchaeus…not so much. We don’t expect him to be generous at all. He is a despised tax collector…and not just a tax collector, but a chief tax collector. Both of them have an encounter with Jesus…one becomes a generous giver out of the overflow of his thankfulness for what Jesus has done for him, and the other leaves very sad. Jesus changes everything. And it’s not what we expected. For Zacchaeus, Jesus’ gracious offer of salvation is Good News indeed, and he goes from being a taker to a giver, from greedy to generous, from entitled to thankful… But the Rich Young Ruler can’t stand to part with his stuff. His selfishness and greed, which were already there, have just been revealed.

Let me ask you a question, and be honest with yourself…which one best describes you? 

Let me ask it another way. What would Central look like if everyone was as committed as you are? If everyone gave and served and prayed exactly like you, would we be more thankful and generous, or less?

Everything that we have comes from God. We are merely stewards of what He’s entrusted to us. Whether He’s entrusted us with little like the widow or much like King Solomon, it’s all His. We have to keep that in mind. And know this…God is more concerned about the “why” of our giving than the “what”. He looks at the heart. Sometimes it’s harder to be generous when you have more…our stuff tends to get in the way…to capture our hearts and cause us to want more. But the more we pursue generosity, the easier it is to let go of our stuff.

If being generous…if giving…is new to you, I know what it feels like to look at your finances and wonder, “how?” Let me just challenge you to try it. Taste and see that the LORD is good. And you’ll see for yourself, that when we’re generous, God’s always faithful to meet our needs.

And like our spiritual gifts, God has given us resources to build up the body. We won’t experience the fullness of joy and abundance of life that Jesus wants for us until He has all of us, including our resources.

If you haven’t experienced it yet, as I said earlier, this is a very generous church. I know there are a ton of stories of folks who give and give generously. We couldn’t do the ministry we do…we couldn’t reach the folks in this valley and around the world we’re reaching…we couldn’t have the kingdom impact we’re having…without you. So thank you.

But may we excel still more and more, and may we grow in the grace of giving.

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This post is based on this week’s sermon. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

Help Wanted: Service Shows Our Love for One Another

Romans 12.9-21

Renewed thinking allows us to see the world from a very different perspective than those around us. It causes us to think rightly about who we are and how we fit within the church. It frees us up to  think of others before our selves. It pushes us to look out for ways to use our gifts and serve each other. And it’s the catalyst for us to live and love like Jesus.

Renewed thinking comes from a renewed mind…a mind that has been transformed by God’s Word. As we spend more time in God’s Word and allow God’s Word to spend more time in us, the Spirit uses the Word to renew our minds and transform us to live and love like Jesus. We begin to see the world more and more through His eyes. We begin to want what He wants. We begin to love like He loves. We begin to live out our role as ambassadors for His kingdom. And so come what may…good times or bad, blessing or cursing, feast or famine, tribulation or persecution or suffering of any kind…we can rejoice. We have hope. We trust God. And we see that His will for us is perfect…good, acceptable and perfect.

When my son was in third grade, he and I decided to try tae kwon do. The first day we entered the dojo, it was clear that the goal was for us to be black belts. Even though there were a number of them present, the sensei didn’t consider his job done until we all crossed the finished line. It’s not about one of us making it to maturity. It’s a group project. The job’s not done until we all attain to the unity of the faith…

I hope you’ve found this serve series to be helpful. I hope it’s caused you to begin to ask questions…to explore what your spiritual gifts are and where you might use them. I hope you’ve been encouraged. But most of all, I hope you discover the joy of serving for yourself. So if you’ve been waiting…just try it!

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This post is based on a sermon from our Help Wanted: Inquire Within series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

Help Wanted: Service Uses Our Gifts

Romans 12.3-8

A renewed mind brings about renewed thinking which allows us to see the world from a very different perspective than those around us. It causes us to think rightly about who we are and how we fit within the church. And it’s the catalyst for us to live and love like Jesus.

God’s gifted you for a reason…are you using your spiritual gift to build up the body? Of course that assumes that you know what your spiritual gifts are. One way to discover what your spiritual gift is…is to serve. If you hear about an opportunity that appeals to you, then just try it. If it’s an area of giftedness, you’ll know. It will “feel” right, and we won’t be able to talk you out of it. If not, you’ll know that too, and you can try something else. Remember the Christian life is not an experiment but a lifestyle, not just trying, but training.

If you want to experience the fullness of joy and abundance of life that Jesus talks about, you’ve got to get serving. So find ways to serve. As you exercise your spiritual gifts, don’t be surprised to see God use them in tandem with others, bringing you closer together and closer to Him.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Help Wanted: Inquire Within series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

Help Wanted: Service is a Response

Romans 12.1-2

We all have ways that we are conforming to the world around us. Hard not to do when you walk this planet. But as we spend more time in God’s Word and allow God’s Word to spend more time in us, the Spirit uses the Word to renew our minds and transform us to live and love like Jesus. We begin to see the world more and more through His eyes. We begin to want what He wants. We see that His will for us is perfect. And then offering the whole of ourselves to Him…serving Him…just makes sense. It’s the only reasonable thing to do.

Because of what God’s done for us, we want to serve Him…and we do that by serving others.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Help Wanted: Inquire Within series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.